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Robyn Field has spent many years on the Joburg arts scene, chiefly as owner and curator of Unity

Gallery from 2003-2013. Through the gallery, located in Joburg CBD, she worked with emerging artists to develop their careers, created and managed a variety of craft and design projects and partnered with NGOs to help them hold exhibitions and promote young talent.

Between the cracks of her involvement in the Jozi creative scene, she created her own art, much of which was abstract in nature, featuring heavy, pattered used of waste materials such as computer circuit boards and the ring pulls from tin cans (among other things).

Field shifted gears in 2013 and started working seriously on her own art. She has emerged with work that digs into the often crazy heart of South African society, while always maintaining her signature use of colour.   

Joburg fine artist Robyn Field lashes South Africa's social issues with bold, ironic colours in her new work, showcased at the Mall of Africa on the 29th of September...

September 2016

“At the moment social media features conceptually and visually in some of my work because public discourse in 2016 is just so bizarre - and a lot of the strangeness has to do with digital communication,” she says. “A lot of people are struggling to get their heads around how we talk to each other right now, and what changing modes of communication could mean for humans in the long term. I think the weirdness comes through a lot in all the work.”

Fittingly, Field's colours feel digital. Shockingly digital, in some cases. Actually, there isn't a mouse or a screen in sight in her creative process. Instead, she works with layers of paint, ink and charcoal on canvas - all very traditional art materials.

“I've always been obsessed with colour and pattern,” she explains. “These have always been a feature of my art in some way, and I guess this has carried on in the new work, just with a more literal, narrative approach. It's been good fun, and cathartic to get well away from screens and pixels. I use traditional materials as a form of personal meditation, I guess.”

So, how does it feel to be stepping away from curating, careers and the business of art, after so many years working behind the scenes?

“It's great, actually,” she says. “I've really enjoyed just focusing on art, and leaving everything else behind. I'm lucky in that I get to see a lot of the people I've worked with through the years at August House, so the relationships are still there, but without the hell of running an organisation or managing teams!”

Robyn Field's art will be showcased at the Julie Miller Investment Art Institute, Mall of Africa, from the 29th September to the 13th October 2016.

Field, who is now based at the August House studios in the Joburg CBD, has responded to South Africa's frenzied public debate with a collection of beautiful and brightly absurd images featuring titles like Fist on the Move, Take Your Shit and Go, United Decisive Action and From Those Fabulous Folk Who Brought You Apartheid.  

“It's a very highly charged time at the moment,” she says. “I struggle to process a lot of what's going on, and art offers me another way to reflect on things. Personally, I prefer creating paintings to listening to political debates or reading opinion pieces, which can become like a long trip into the echo chamber.”

In United Decisive Action, for example, Field has created an apocalyptic city scape - a portrait of recently bombed Homs, in Syria, in fact. It's a beautiful image, which, when read in the context of the rest of Field's work, is precisely the point. Is humanity losing the ability to discern between facts and feelings? Are we losing our grip on the basics of social interaction and community in the digital age? These questions thread their way through all of Field's work, giving the viewer a lot to chew on.

View the full album from the opening exhibition below

The crazy Beauty of being South African

Click here to View Robyns Profile